USC football: 5 Trojans poised for breakout seasons in 2020

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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USC football
Isaiah Pola-Mao #21 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

3. USC football breakout players: Isaiah Pola-Mao

Isaiah Pola-Mao is known more for his famous family ties than he is his play on the field. That’s changing this season. A safety who calls Troy Polamalu an uncle and went to his alma mater is always going to play in the Hall of Famer’s shadow.

Pola-Mao is going to become a household name partially because of the storyline, but also because he’s about to become one of the best safeties in the country. That’s saying something when he’s already playing next to Talanoa Hufanga, but this one-two punch could become a headline maker.

The one thing that works extremely well in Pola-Mao’s favor is working in new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando’s scheme. He already led the Trojans in interceptions last season, was third in tackles and was great at getting into the backfield. Orlando loves to focus on his linebackers running the defense, but with two safeties like he has here, this could change his focus.

Pola-Mao has been with USC since signing in 2017 as one of the stars of a recruiting class that ranked fourth in the nation. Bubba Bolden was the other star safety that signed in that class, but now he’s trying to grab the turnover chain in Miami. That leaves Pola-Mao to represent for that class in a position that’s now going to be a focal point. He’s going to be a player to watch, and he could really raise his value when playing some of the passing offenses in the Pac 12.